Dear Commons Community,
After much soul-searching and pressure from students and faculty, Yale will officially change the name of its Calhoun College to Grace Hopper College. As reported in the New York Times:
“In a dining hall at Yale University, the portrait of an avid proponent of slavery has been replaced with a shield depicting a heraldic dolphin.
On Tuesday, beneath the dolphin’s fearsome eye, Yale’s president and the Navy’s chief of operations will make speeches, a chaplain will offer a blessing, and a secret ceremonial object will be unveiled.
With that, Yale’s Calhoun College, named for John C. Calhoun — a vice president, senator from South Carolina, and founding forefather of the Civil War — will recede further into the New Haven university’s past. The gothic stone building, one of the 14 residential colleges where undergraduates live and eat, will be dedicated as Hopper College, after Rear Adm. Grace Murray Hopper, a boundary-smashing computer pioneer and naval officer. The dolphin on the Hopper College shield is a nod to her maritime career.
The ceremony caps a bitter, exhausting fight that included years of student protests, a smashed stained-glass window depicting slaves, a decision by Yale to keep Calhoun’s name and then, in a reversal, to drop it.
And it comes at the end of a summer of unrest across much of the nation over how to remember and whether to honor those on the wrong moral side of the nation’s greatest conflict.
For Calhoun College students who fought for the name change, returning to campus to see signs for “Grace Hopper College” was energizing. “I think for a lot of people this summer has shown that it’s sort of beyond this ivory tower intellectual debate,” Maya Jenkins, a Hopper senior, said on Friday.
Admiral Hopper helped build the nation’s first electromechanical computer, developed the first compiler, proposed the idea of writing computer programs in words rather than symbols, and retired from the Navy at age 79.”
A good move by Yale. And Grace Hopper surely deserves to have a college named for her.